U.S. Council for Athletes' Health
Athletics Healthspace



Emergency Action Planning: The Policy Updates Your Institution Cannot Afford To Forget About

It is hard to believe, but for nearly a year now athletic institutions have been adjusting to the ever-changing and ever-evolving COVID era of participation. Athletic organizations are using the most current and up-to-date information from multiple sources to develop and implement policies and procedures that help ensure athletic participation is as healthy and safe as possible.

The implementation of continually changing COVID-related health and safety policies and procedures dramatically impact how we use our traditional training and competition sites.  In some instances, athletic programs may be training or competing in facilities or venues that have never before been used.

Ensuring the COVID participation adjustments are implemented for training and competition sites is important and challenging work. Of equal importance, and often forgotten, is the updating of Emergency Action Plans.  As an athletic organization, you must ensure your Emergency Action Plans are revised and up to date and meet the necessary requirements.

But how should your organization go about this review and update?  Our experts at USCAH provide solutions below.

When is the right time to review your Emergency Action Plans (EAP)?

At a minimum, the EAP for each sport should be reviewed on an annual basis.  Consideration should be given to reviewing each sport specific EAP at the conclusion of the season.

Best Practices:

  • As part of this yearly evaluation, the emergency team should review the EAP, rehearse the EAP, discuss expectations and assign responsibilities to each team member
  • The EAP should also be reviewed after any emergency event, in which the EAP was used (“after action report)” and updates and modifications should occur.

Who should be involved in the institution’s Emergency Action Plan creation and review and revision process?

While health care providers, athletic trainers, or team physicians are usually responsible for writing the EAP, all those involved with possible emergency response to the athlete should be involved in the creation or revision of the EAP.  These include:

  • Athletic administrators
  • Team physicians
  • Athletic trainers
  • Coaches
  • Strength and conditioning specialists
  • Facility supervisors or security
  • Local EMS services

What are the top things to consider when reviewing, revising, and evaluating the Emergency Action Plan? 

The top items to consider when reviewing and revising the EAP revolve around change and history.  If there have been substantive changes to the facilities used, access to the facilities, or if there are significant changes to the Emergency Response Team the EAP needs review and revision.

A historical review of current and previous EAPs and previous emergency events where the EAP was implemented provide the context to move forward using “lessons learned” in the creation of the new version of the EAP.  

From an evaluation perspective, any time the EAP is used for an emergency event, the effectiveness of the EPA should be measured post-event.  Simply, an effective EAP provides the quickest and safest access to health care responders in the emergency event.

What impact does the COVID era of participation bring to Emergency Action Plan review and revision?

With the everchanging COVID related policies during an athletic season, EAPs must be reviewed and revised as new participation policies create facility use and personnel changes.  In-season EAP revision must take place when:

  • A new or alternative training or competition facility is introduced
  • Access to a facility is changed—for example COVID related policies may identify separate facility entrance and exit doors
  • Facility staffing and team personnel is decreased, changing the membership of the Emergency Action Team

Additionally, any time COVID related changes are made to the EAP in-season, those changes should also be reviewed to determine their applicability for upcoming seasons.

USCAH—Your collaborative partner in health and safety

The "Why" for USCAH is to ensure that athletic healthcare and safety are a priority for every athletic organization. We collaborate and partner with athletic organizations to determine the best methods for making this priority of athletic healthcare and safety a reality through innovative programming, education and cultivating culture.

Want to become a member of USCAH and learn what we can do together? Reach out to our team at info@uscah.com to start the conversation. 


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